In Search of Snow
Posted on January 5, 2014
Hey, half the reason we planned a trip to the Alps in winter was to have some time in the snow. Guess what. No new snow to speak of for the entire three and a half weeks we were there. Good thing there was a big dump in late November or Santa would have had to deliver presents like a postman.
After driving for seemingly endless hours southward from Ingolstadt to the edge of the German Alps, dull drippy clouds began to yield up dull, sticky snowy flakes. We were delighted, but soon that was the end of it. Soon it was dark, cold and icy. Then we discovered that we didn’t know where we were going. I knew the town and the name of our vacation rental but not the address. It was on the internet and we had no connection. What an oversight. To add more insult to our injury, the town itself doesn’t actually physically exist. It seems to be a convenient handle used by some 18 surrounding communities as a marketing tool to rally visitors to their ski slopes. Dang. Which village are we supposed to look for? Night was descending fast. Leave it to Suzi who leapt from the car and began knocking on doors. Before long we were clinging to the side of a one lane road well above the village of Pfronten-Ried, Suzi knocking on doors in one direction and I the other, with pavement so slippery we could hardly stand, much less walk. Suzi hailed a passing motorist. He thought he knew, whipped out his iPhone, and located it with the help of my mentioning that it lay beside a chapel. We followed as he drove to the proper house. The owner was in his driveway waiting for us. Yet another of so many good turns we found ourselves on the receiving end of.
Here’s a shot of Suzi from our balcony before the snow stopped falling.
Here’s another taken next morning at sunrise.
Like in almost every town in Germany, Ried collects a visitor tax of about 3% to promote tourism. I get the sense that they actually spend the money to provide visitors benefits, instead of it being drained off to some bureaucratic infinite sinkhole. We got great roads, great trails, excellent trail signposts, informative brochures, and far from least, free bus and train rides over a good 30 mile range.
So off we went about one kilometer downslope via trail to the train station.
We had the bus and train schedule in our apt. so knew exactly when the local train would leave the station. We took it to the end of the line near the Austrian border and walked about a kilometer through crunchy snow until we had a good view down the other side.
Then we took the spotless train some distance in the other direction to a larger town for lunch.
At 2:00 we were a bit late for a sit-down meal so we stepped into a corner deli to see what they had. There were a few hot items and we both choose a pasta/sauerkraut roll that was just delicious. Who would know? This little place, neat as a pin, offered over 70 kinds of sausages. I counted them! Then after our lunch, in typical German fashion, we sauntered down the road a piece and had coffee and cake at a local bakery/konditorei. I’ll spare you a photo of that work of art, filled and topped with real whipped cream, not some fluffed up imitation petroleum product.
Next morning we were out again on the trails, following signs and taking photos.
We hoped to climb to the ruins of a famed castle but time was short and we needed to get on to friends for a real cheese fix. Martina took us to a small cheese maker out in the country. Decisions, decisions.
Some day you, too, may be in Füssen, near Pfronten. It’s a fine upscale vacation place, summer or winter. We were there to cross the River Lech where Augustus Caesar led his troops on the way to what became the great city of Augsburg, Roman capital of the northern provinces. A convenient footbridge is now provided.
The Bavarian Alps region is heavily Catholic. You will see lots of crucifixes such as these, even in winter chill.
Although the Passion Play is presented only every ten years, Oberammergau is worth a visit anytime for its rich display of trompe l’oeil.
At Christmastime nativity scenes are a popular sight. Museums will show collections of incredibly ornate antique stagings. Here’s the simplest one we saw, in a store window.
Our stay for one night in a private home was one of our fine experiences. Here’s an early morning view from our balcony.
Next, we’ll move as far east as the German border permits, to Berchtesgaden, in search of the very best snow.